I have watched and admired my son, Jess, and his wife, Rachel. They lost their son, Will, in February of this year. Their pain and grief are real and often intense, but they have leaned on Jesus Christ to give them comfort, strength, and hope.
As we enter this Christmas season, I am aware that their pain is often rekindled. They no doubt are grieving that their little boy will not be opening gifts. They will not see his wide-eyed excitement of the season. They hurt deeply.
They are not alone.
So Many Hurting
I hurt deeply for those who see empty places at their meals for Christmas. They so wish they could give gifts to those who are no longer here. The video at the end of this post is a powerful reminder of the grief that is so very real during this season.
I hurt for those who are struggling with serious physical problems this Christmas. I pray regularly for my brother, Sam, who recently had open-heart surgery. His recovery was well on its way, and then he suffered two strokes. This Christmas will be very different for him.
So many have serious physical problems. So many have loved ones who do.
So Many Needing Help
There are others who can’t buy gifts this season. They barely have the funds to buy food for their families. So many unemployed. So many struggling financially.
I hurt for those who have gone through the agony of a divorce. No matter what the circumstances, their Christmas will be so different and so lonely. My heart aches for their children who will have to split their holidays between two parents.
I hurt for the families of our men and women in the military who will not see their loved ones this Christmas. They will be without the physical presence of someone they love because that person is putting his or her life on the line for our country, and for you and me.
Similarly, many will not see other loved ones this Christmas because they are serving on the mission field. The cause of the gospel is their priority; but it doesn’t mean our missionaries and their families don’t feel the pain of loneliness during Christmas season.
So Many Struggling
I hurt for those who live under the dark cloud of depression. They don’t want the pain; but they often feel it more intensely during the holidays.
Indeed there are so many who are hurting and struggling. I could go on and on about the pain and suffering in this world, and how it is often exacerbated during the holiday season.
The Hope of the Gospel
I pray that those who are hurting will, somehow in the midst of their pain, see the hope of the gospel. I pray that they will see the eternal hope of the resurrection that followed Christ’s sacrifice on a bloody cross.
And I pray that many of us will be messengers of the hope of the gospel. Sometimes a kind word can make a world of difference to someone hurting. Sometimes we need to sacrifice our own comforts to give to others in need. Sometimes we need to sacrifice the convenience of our own holiday festivities to reach out to someone who is hurting.
On the back of our Christmas card this year, Nellie Jo and I included these words: “We give glory to God for the life and death of our grandson, William Thomas Rainer. His eternity is secure because of the work of the Savior whose birth we celebrate.”
In the midst of our own pain, we have the hope and promise of the gospel.
May we ever be messengers of that gospel to those who are hurting and need to see that hope.
This Christmas season, I think I mean that more than ever.